Monday, October 10, 2011

Philadelphia Bicycling Tales of the Absurd – I




In Philadelphia its tough enough with periodic attempts by various Philadelphia City Council and those trying to get elected to Philadelphia City Council to make bicycling and bicycling infrastructure as difficult as possible. But when President of the Traffic Court Thomasine Tynes states:

“Make city bicyclists register their bikes, cite them for moving violations such as riding on the sidewalk or blowing through stop signs, and then have those tickets dealt with by Traffic Court, Judge Thomasine Tynes suggests. "I am not against the cyclists," Tynes said. "But the problem is there is no punishment for not abiding by the law."

I find it astounding that any traffic court judge, let alone the President of the Philadelphia Traffic Court could make such egregious statements. A simple Google search under “Pennsylvania Bicycle Laws led me to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation website regarding bicycles and traffic law. Section 3508 A&B, clearly explains that riding on the sidewalk is against the law and Section 3501-B states that: “Bicycles are considered vehicles under Pennsylvania Laws and must obey all the rules of the road which apply to vehicles. These are the "responsibilities" mentioned above. The "rights" refer to the roadway space required to operate the bicycle in a safe, lawful manner.”  In other words, bicycles are subject to the same laws as cars and the same fines.

You don't need to have a bicycle license or a bicycle license plate for a police officer to write you a ticket. Valid ID is all the police need and if you don't have one they can hold you at the station until they can verify your address.

So what would I do?
I would send President of the Traffic Court Judge Thomasine Tynes to a remedial course in traffic law. Clearly Judge Tynes needs this based on the statements she has made. What this really boils down to is enforcement of the existing laws by the Philadelphia Police Department, if Judge Tynes truly feels that this is an important issue than she should pressure the police to step up enforcement of the current laws instead of trying to create ineffective new laws. Otherwise this is just another attempt by an elected official to make name for themselves without actually doing anything.

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